We defined a gadfly, according to the dictionary, as: "1. A persistent, irritating critic; a nuisance. 2. One that acts as a provocative stimulus; a goad. 3. Any of various flies, esp. of the family Tabanidae, that bite or annoy livestock and other animals."
Or, we might add to that last part, bite or annoy people.
Where are they found? At meetings of government entities throughout the country. But for some reason, they mostly frequent the chambers of city councils, boards of county supervisors, and sometimes school boards. However, they cannot stay away from special meetings of all sorts where the future of everyday citizens are at stake.
There is another trait of too many gadflies not stated, but evident by the various descriptions that define them: Negativism. Meaning if there is nothing of negative impact about the issue at hand, they create dissension.
Now, let it be said that some gadflies have had a positive influence in keeping elected officials in line and on their toes. They take pride in this, and rightly so.
A rare few actually find themselves in places of endearment to a ruling board, speaking briefly on virtually everything, but not disruptive or disrespectful. Some have actually been honored by public officials.
Granted, there are negative connotations attached to the word gadfly. But we purposely point out here that some gadflies serve a much-needed and welcome function in government.
And we note gadflies are not to be confused with John Q. Public addressing a council or other governing body with a legitimate concern.
We expected feedback from the gadfly column, but the reaction surprised us.
Most folks who responded seemed to automatically presume negativity attaches to the word, and the negativism applied directly to them